You Had Me at Hello: Phantasmagoric Theatre Tarot

Blog, Deck Reviews

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I am super excited to be working with this deck. From the moment I saw it online, I knew this was something I would enjoy immensely. The whimsical art, the specific tarot world that it portrays, the careful symbolism and philosophy–all seemed too good to be true. I purchased the deck and I am going to spend all of March working with this deck. I will be doing daily draws every day, and I intend to look into determinism (which is the central philosophy of this deck–that life is scripted and we cannot escape our fate) as well as reread Shakespeare’s Tempest, which, if I remember correctly, expresses the idea that life is like theatre. I read this in my university days and it will be interesting to revisit it again.

(On a side note, I regret not taking extensive notes and blogging about last month’s deck–Steampunk Tarot: Wisdom from the Gods of the Machine. It was my first time doing “deck of the month” for myself and I didn’t have a firm study system. I should have studied the Victorian society and the steampunk genre more!! Grrrr)

I haven’t finished reading the guidebook yet, but the concept of this deck and some of the author’s notes are already very interesting. The four key symbols depicted on the back of the card: a dice, the number 56, a puzzle piece and a question mark each represent the author’s central beliefs and are frequently referenced throughout the deck. The number 56 is apparently meant to be a political statement that states each of us is numbered by the time of birth. The dice represents the random occurrences and chaos that we are dealt and must experience until the final curtain drops. The puzzle pieces represent the connections that we make throughout our lives, and as our connections increase and grow, the world becomes smaller. The question mark represents the unanswered questions that we have in life.

The deck taps into an interesting metaphor throughout the cards–that life is theatre. Life is a play. Life is scripted, and we, as actors, can only play out our roles and make the best of what we are given. The events in our lifetime are predetermined by the plot that is in store for us, and we don’t really have the room to make drastic changes. Although, by tapping into the powers of tarot, we are able to make “minor adjustments” to avoid disasters that can cost us.

I don’t know if I agree with this view on life completely, but I do want to explore the metaphor further and see how I would personally interpret it.

So let’s start by examining the idea that life is scripted, and that we are given the script at the moment of our birth and our life is predetermined by what is already given. I looked into determinism briefly, and it is a concept that states there is no free will, and that our choices are merely a process of cause and effect–simple or complicated. To have free will means to have options, and that we are free to exercise those options. According to the rules of philosophical debate, free will is very hard to prove because it is mostly a feeling.

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So life is scripted. What is this script? I know many people believe that when a soul chooses to enter a body or a lifetime, the soul has a “contract” or a “plan” to experience certain things in life–to work through particular lessons, to connect with specific types of people, to go through “predetermined” events in order to achieve a spiritual effect etc. Perhaps, some of these lessons and objectives are carried over from our previous lifetimes, and we seek to complete our journey or fulfill what has not been fulfilled from our previous lives. For me personally, I don’t know how reality works, but this version of how a soul travels through physical lifetime kind of works for me. I don’t know if it happens like that “down to a tee”, but I believe in the concept of having a “general agenda” that is either “agreed upon” or “predetermined”–lessons or trajectories that we are meant to experience in a particular lifetime. So in this way, the idea of “life is scripted” kind of works, but I think I am deviating from the author’s intentions for this deck a bit since ultimately, we had a say in how we wanted our lives to play out, since we “decided” it and “predetermined” it ourselves before we are born.

Or, if we didn’t actively “choose” the life that we want to live, which may very well be the case–the idea that our souls carry imprints, signatures and lessons that are in need of resolving or healing or creating also works for me. So this aligns with what I currently understand about determinism–that our choices are determined by a series of causes and effects. Say that I am in a toxic relationship in this lifetime is because of the energies and lessons that I carry from another lifetime (or even just from this lifetime)–and that I need to go through the motions to “break the pattern” and to “learn the lesson”–then yes. Life is scripted. It’s scripted because what has happened to us before this present moment plays a role in determining what our experiences are going to be.

If we go with “life is scripted” metaphor–if there is a script, then there must be a writer, no? I cannot simply treat the script as a magical and absolute manifestation that will determine a person’s basic plot line–all the rising actions and the denouement and the final curtain. Like who writes the script? Who wrote the script? If the script is prewritten, is it our “souls” that determined what the script is going to be about? Is it our spirit guides? Is it god? Is it something else that’s bigger than us? Or again, is it simply “prewritten” because it is what we carry within our souls? But that is only if you believe in reincarnation or having several lifetimes, which I do, so I have to include in my discussion.

Either way, in my belief, be it spirit guides or our higher selves or whatever–it does not occur to me that the script is unchangeable. That’s like trying to rewrite my DNA. Who’s the writer? Perhaps there is no clear source of where this script came from, but I do believe that we play a role in changing the stories that we tell–or would that fall into the role and functions of an actor? We, as actors, perform according to the script, putting our own spin on it, expressing the lines we are given in our own way, making the best out of any situation. So perception plays an important role here. We can be dealt a shitty script, but we can still make it a brilliant play. So I guess this still plays into the idea of determinism, but it’s just that we choose to perceive our “play” from a place of empowerment and creativity.

Okay, so I want to go back to the script again. In my head, I do not believe that a script is something that is descriptive to the point that it knows exactly what we are going to wear on May 25, 2038. We’re not being bloody “scripted” like some mindless NPC’s in an open-world RPG game, for goodness’ sake. I think how I define a “script” for a person’s life would be exactly what I said earlier –like it contains the general trajectories, the big lessons and core concepts that we are supposed to experience and get in touch with in this lifetime, and how we experience it may take several physical forms. This aligns with the idea of script and literature…is it kind of like interpreting poetry, then? It’s more about how you perceive the symbolism and the imagery-and how you make meaning out of it?

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But I guess, the idea of a script for theatre is that the plot details and even some actions are dictated, which returns to the author’s idea of “fate”–that we are unable to alter the events that are destined to happen in our lives. We can only try to avoid the upcoming disasters through “minor adjustments”. That’s so fatalist! But I guess that’s the point *slaps forehead* That’s just so…negative. Like the entire framework posits that shit (and only shit?) happens in life, and we just have to deal with it, YOLO. Like the things that are “scripted”–the way it is written in the little white book that comes with the deck–it just feels like only “disasters” will happen and we should be lucky to have anything good in our lives at all.

That’s hogwash, sorry. That’s just so against my inner nature. I’m never one for spiritual bypassing or viewing life only through the lens of “love and light”–but like, my inner fibres are like, naturally fluffy and they’re made of sunflowers. Like I’m not trying to out-positive everything and ignore the negative aspects in life, but I like to look at the challenges or “disasters” in life from a place of strength. They’re challenges because they are a testament to how strong we can be. They are difficult because we are given an opportunity to rise to overcome those difficulties. I’m all about exercising our free will and agency–choosing what is best for ourselves to the best of our ability. Viewing life as inherently difficult and we just have to make do with what we are given and do our best to try to neutralize all the negativity–meh. It’s really not my cup of tea. Yes, shit happens, but we are stronger than all of those shit combined. We just have to choose to tap into our strengths and face our challenges head on. Am I right? Am I right?

Anyway, I digress. That’s enough about the script. I want to talk about the idea or the concept of actors. Like I mentioned earlier, actors have to follow the script, but they are also artists–they have their own voice, their own worldviews, and their own artistry and their own unique way of interpreting and performing the play. This taps into the idea of creative agency and that we are free to do whatever we like to the “material” we are given. (Hey–it’s not about what you got–it’s about what you do with what you got, right?) When it comes to acting, it is also a dedicated craft. There are skills you can learn and strategies you can internalize–so this inevitable includes the idea of practice and self-development. Now this is my cup of tea. We can choose to practice, focus and perform our roles better in the way that we want to.

This is totally not taking a deterministic turn. Sorry Cameron! Not following your script. 😛

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There is also the aspect of performance. Now this gets kind of interesting–because when actors perform, they must have an audience, right? Who are we performing for? For others? But if life is theatre, these so called “others” would be the other actors, right? The actors that are participating in the same story as us. Or these audiences could be the people that are not really within our life’s experience–people that are busy living their own lives, performing their own plays on their own stages? So, say you’re Bill Gates and you’re famous and inspiring–you may have a large (global, in fact) audience that attends your play because you are known to the world through your achievements, your work, and through media la di da.

The idea of performativity though–can this be a representation of the ego? When we’re not expressing our true selves–when we are not acting authentically or from a place of honest–we are “putting on a show” or we are simply “reacting” to our surroundings–living our lives on auto-pilot without without being aware of what’s really going on. Are we following the script at this point? Perhaps. Perhaps this is just another lesson that we need to learn. But say we cultivate awareness and spiritual autonomy, then we are making a conscious performance–would this be considered artistic? Creative? Because it is a true expression of ourselves and who we are as individuals?

Not sure where we are going with this. But anyway, I think “life is theatre” or “life is a play” is a fascinating metaphor.

Wait, who’s the director, then? WHO’S BEHIND IT ALL!? WHO’S THE PRODUCER THAT PUT ON THIS PLAY? WHO’S READYING THE PROPS AND STUFF?

I may be taking this too far. But right? Who’s directing this? Definitely not a solitary god playing SIMS–that’s not within my belief. Perhaps our…collective consciousness as human beings? Or our collective energies and desires as souls travelling through space-time, seeking to find our true selves and true experience?

Where do we go when the curtain falls, as actors? Well, death. Death is certain. Do we get shoved into another play? Do we choose to perform another play? Or do we decide to change our paths and pursue something else entirely?

Anyway. These are my thoughts and musings so far. I’ll update you on my progress once I’ve worked with this deck more–and also read the little white book. The court cards are actually characters (with names!) that the author has created. I’m sure Graham Cameron has more to say about each card he’s created–this seems like a carefully and meticulously crafted deck. I mean just based on the explanation that he gave about the symbolism on the back of the card–I anticipate more awesome details down the road.

You Had Me At Hello: The Arthur Rackham Oracle

Deck Reviews, Tarot

you had me at hello arthur rackham oracle blog feature imageI remember my heart leapt out of my throat when I first discovered this deck on the internet. I could not contain my excitement: Shakespeare, fairytales, and Victorian storybook all in one deck? HELLO!? At that precise moment, I swore an oath to acquire this deck without fail. I must own this deck if it meant the apocalypse!

And well, I’m ashamed to say that I could not honour my oath immediately because….it didn’t mean the apocalypse, but it did mean paying the deck in atrocious Canadian dollars, which was a good old $80 at the time. And purchasing an indie deck in Canada is just absolutely dreadful. With the currency difference, taxes, and shipping (holy crap shipping!), buying anything internationally as a Canadian is just honestly tragic (#firstworldproblems)

But anyway, I digress. After much whining, my family (knowing how unsatiated deck lust tends to eat me alive) took pity on me and purchased it for me as an early Christmas present. And it surprisingly made its way past the dimensional rift (Canadian customs) and arrived in a timely fashion, before the Christmas postal black hole! Holy shit I’m so happy. I unboxed it with glee and I was flipping through the cards just now, and I cannot tell you how incredible this deck is! Except I am telling you this now because it’s so awesome! HOLY CRAP!

First Impressions

25371234_10159567508960580_247816994_oI immediately caught various references to Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. Nick Bottom made several appearances in his glorious donkey head throughout the deck. I recognized famous fairytale scenes: Snow White being found by the Seven Dwarves, Red Riding Hood making her way through the forest and conversing with her “grandmother” that was the Wolf in disguise. I noticed some tarot references as well. For example, the Strength card features a maiden walking amongst lions, just like the maiden in RWS’s Strength. There are lots of scenes featuring the “common folk” going about in their daily lives, facing little but significant moments of insecurity, fear, shadows and doubts–very akin to tarot’s minor arcana. On the introductory card attached to the main deck, it is said that the Rackham Oracle is not meant to be tarot, nor is it lenormand, though it draws inspirations from both.

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Other than the images, I also love the word choices (some of which made me use the dictionary–Medrugada, which is the Spanish word for “early morning”, is subtitled “Doorway to Dream-Time”, a card that portrays the in-between and transitional states between the layers of consciousness, between waking and dreaming. The word Sangfroid was an interesting word; I had to really wrap my tongue around it to get a feel of it. It means “composure or coolness”, and it is subtitled “Confronting the Demons” and accompanied by a scene in which a gentleman in a coat and a pale looking witch are seen as if dealing with a hoard of goblins (with one of them being the goblin king). I suppose “confronting the demons” depicts moments where you cannot openly display your vulnerability, moments that require powerful inner resolve and groundness to achieve your goal in mind.

So far, me likey.

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Immediate Favourites 

The cards that I am immediately drawn to are, I discovered promptly, cards that resonated with my character and sense of humour. These are cards that mirrored my whimsical and playful nature and appealed to my inner trickster nature as well as my love for cute things (cats). Stability features a black cat balancing on a wooden beam, followed by the key word “Sure Footedness”. Needless to say I’m in love. Anything that features a cat is automatically approved without further questioning. Quackery-Professional Incompetence is a poignant card with meticulous sense of humour that illustrated the ridiculousness and stupidity of hypocrisy. Courage-Defensive but Daring portrays a fuzzy-hair child standing at the edge of a cliff with a skinny spear, with a swarm of insects (butterflies? little fairy-like creatures? or just plain old bugs) next to her. She looks carefree but there is confidence radiating off her as if she is saying, “I don’t mean any business, but don’t you cross me.” That stance resonates with me so well because that tends to be how I deal with the problems in my life. I’m never on the offensive because I generally don’t like to expend a lot of energy confronting forces or problems unnecessarily, but when it comes to the things that really threaten my well-being and boundaries, people better back the fuck off. (P.S. I kind of messed up the picture sequence and included Devilment instead of Courage on the above picture–but as you can see it is included in the picture below!)

Picture3Other honourable mentions: Intuition-Connection to the SubconsciousFecundity-Creative PowerDevilment-Force for Mischief (hehe), Cultlivation-Achieving RefinementBaphomet-The One Who Sows Discord, & Coterie-Circle of Peers.

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Cards That Made Me Feel 

As I flipped through the cards for the first time, there were cards that tugged at my emotions deeply and gave me lots of feels. One of them in particular really provoked the despair and grief that I felt last year when my father passed away from cancer. The card is called Endingsubtitled “Our journey is over and done.” On the card, a sick woman lays in bed while a man sits by the bed watching her intensely as if observing her final moments yet unable to do anything…because what’s done is done. The quiet despair, numbness and silence all came rushing back to me. In spiritual literature, endings are markers of transformation and are often perceived with optimism. Death is a different ending altogether. I personally believe that a soul’s journey goes beyond the the space-time of a human’s lifetime, but death…the mortality of it. The abruptness and emptiness of it. It’s so incredible physical and heavy and real. It really is “over and done.” Another card Wonder-Shadow of the Past also triggered similar feelings regarding my father’s passing, as the pharaoh looking statue sits in somber silence, withdrawing into its self and withdrawing into the night. It reminds me of grief, of the things that could-have-been but no more.

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Other Honourable Mentions: Coercion-Leaving Behind reminds me of some of the toxic relationships dynamics that I was unfortunately part of in the past. Intemperance-Lack of Self-Control reminds me of the panic and anxiety that I feel, again, when my father passed. All of the cards that triggered intense feelings within me are cards that reflected my emotional reality and the issues, lessons that I am still working through…things that are heavily loaded with psychological and emotional energy.

Cards at My Home Frequency 

Alright, now let’s turn the corner and talk about the cards that make me feel like I am being grounded and inspired to expand–images and words that resonate with my spiritual truths and home frequency. 🙂 Ascension-Nurtured – and Nurturing was one such card, depicting an angelic and motherly figure with butterfly wings carrying a baby on her shoulders while soaring through the landscape. Instead of the theme of nurture, it conveys an incredible sense of freedom to me. The baby or toddler on her shoulders isn’t literally a baby, but perhaps an aspect of myself that I seek to free by ushering it to a vastly open sky. I also feel like this card evokes my Inner Child, and the mother is perhaps my adult self seeking to nurture and protect my Inner Child. This card has a freedom vibe, and in my head, I am hearing Aladdin’s duet with Jasmine: I can show you the world, shining, shimmering and splendid.

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Another card that instills me with feelings of expansion is Destiny-Change in the Wind. I notice that I resonate with cards that seek to convey possibility and potential (which coincides with the theme of The Fool card in tarot, which is the archetype out of all the major arcanas that I identify with the most.) On the card Destiny, a young woman peeks out of a tower through a hole of missing bricks. She brushes her hair as she looks towards the distance, into the future and the journey ahead of her, a totally different life, an ever-changing reality. Discovery-New Horizons also carries the same vibe: new beginnings, adventure, and excitement. Is this the same child that holds the thin spear in Courage? Perhaps. If that is the case, I like how archetypes tend to find their way towards each other.

Other Honourable Mentions: Guardianship-Protection of the Vulnerable, Connectedness-Embraced by the Natural World, Reserve-Complete Unto Oneself. 

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Verdict

I loved it before I owned it, and now that I own it and am holding the deck in my hands–it already feels like it’s a part of me. For someone whose cyber lair is Fables Den, this deck truly a soul-mate that I never knew I had. No introduction needed. Saw it, and loved it with the fullness of my heart. And this is before I even started to read with it!!! I shall be writing another post detailing the results of my ventures. A tarot reading strung with images and symbolism from fairytales, folklores, Victorian literature and Shakespeare…gah. Can a girl ask for more?

You can purchase the Arthur Rackham Oracle here. 

Wisdom of the Oracle: Review + Study Guide

Deck Reviews, Tarot

22404016_10159307625095580_909164059_oOverall Themes

(For the review and the flip through, please check out my video here, or scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the embedded video!)

The overall themes of Wisdom of the Oracle is imagination, possibility and navigation. From what I gather, its core values and philosophies are that we should not hesitate to embark on new journeys that will lead us to opportunities and change, we should always tune in to our inner compass as well as pay attention to the synchronicities all around us, and we should believe that our futures are as limitless and so is our creativity. (The reason why I resonate with this deck so much is precisely because we share similar worldviews. I feel like giving Colette Baron-Reid a high-five!)

Alright, down to the good stuff. If you are considering working with this deck and/or you need some help unpacking the symbolism, this blog post will address the recurring motifs and images that are present throughout this deck. Here are a list of considerations that will help you unpack the cards you pull:

Consider the Landscape of the Card

If you go through the cards, you will find that there are several key landscapes and terrains that are portrayed in this deck. Each landscape tends to represent a unique circumstance or energetic vibe, and sometimes you can see combined landscapes to provide contrast and enhance meaning.

SkyCards like Imagine(20), Unfinished Symphony(10), Blessed(22), Yang(1), Round and Round (25), are Breathe(29) all feature a clear, vast blue sky. Symbolic Associations include: possibilities, limitless potential, expansion, inspiration and future. 

DesertCards like Go the Distance(47), The Tribe(8), Chaos and Conflict(33), By the Book(11), and Tick-Tock(30) all feature the harsh barren landscapes of the desert. Symbolic Associations include: adversity, conflict, resilience, long-term goals, and strength in community and in self-belief.

Mountain/Rock. Cards like Clean It Up(21), Regeneration(46), Orphaned(5), New Life(39), Why?(31), Poised(48), and Come to the Edge(36) all feature mountainous terrains or depictions of a rock or boulders (can sometimes just be a floating chunk of land or rock). Symbolic Associations include: solitude, retreat, withdrawal, cultivation of the innerscapes, and distance. Think the Hermit card from tarot! 

Ocean/Waters. Cards like Message in a Bottle(15), To the Sea(7), and Treasure Island(9) all feature oceanscapes and scenes of water. Symbolic associations include: drifting, transitioning, movement, processing/processes, patience, and waiting. 

Combined Landscapes. There are many cards that combine landscape and scenes. When this is the case, consider the symbolic associations of each landscape and how they interact or contrast one another. For example, Here and Now(32) features both the skyscape and desertscape. The desert connotes the long, arduous journey that you embark on if you choose to dwell in the past and the future, as shown by the road signs. However, if you enter the floating egg in the sky realm, if you enter the land of possibilities and potential.

Consider the Recurring Images and Items

Eggs. Cards like Here and Now(32), Co-Create(40), To Be Fair(38), Unfinished Symphony(10), Happy, Happy(26), Observer(49), Loyal Heart(35), Flexible(19), and Peace(23) all depict eggs of various colours and sizes. Symbolic Associations: birth, gestation, creation, creativity, opportunity, and intention. 

Stars. Cards like Time to Go(45), Breathe(29), Time for a Nap(24), Poised(48), The Fates(17), Round and Round (25), Thinker(44), Yang(1), Blessed(22), Deep Knowing (43), Peace(23), and Observer (49) all feature stars, sprinkled across the card or strung into an object. Symbolic Associations: divine guidance, inspiration, Muse, faith, belief, hope, spiritual energy, and celestial connection. 

Birds. Cards like The Tribe(8), Fork in the Road(13), Between Worlds(3), Co-Create(40), To be Fair(38), Unfinished Symphony(10), Happy, Happy(26), Loyal Heart(35), Truth Be Told(14), Peace(23), Deep Knowing(43) all feature birds (and if you pay attention, a lot of them are owls. Birds, especially owls, serve as symbols of important messengers and guardians that are present in our lives. I believe this is true across many Colette Baron-Reid decks. Symbolic Associations: guardian angels, spirit guides, spiritual connection, intuition, listening to the divine, synchronicity-messages, unexpected news and opportunities, vision, and active listening. 

Journey/Wayfinding. Cards like Observer(49), Time to Go(45), Here and Now(32), A Change in the Wind(12), Tick-Tock(30), Message in a Bottle(15), To the Sea(7), Fork in the Road(13) all feature aspects of journeying and wayfinding. This is a broader category for all things related to wayfinding: depictions of roads, road signs, compass, telescopes, and movement. Symbolic Associations: the journey of life, finding your way, staying true to your purpose, vision, decision-making, transition, and answering your calling. 

Winged Beings. Cards like Happy, Happy(26), Exchange Gifts(27), Serendipity (18), Never-Ending Story(37), Blessed(22), Thinker(44), Poised(48), Breathe(29), Mending(52), New Life(39), Why?(31), Time to Go(45), Here and Now(32). Other than being decorative, angellic, butterfly or pixie wings serve as reminders of our inner divinity and our connection with the Universe. Symbolic Associations: divinity, grace, innocence, child-like wonder, wisdom, Nowness and freedom. 

Moon. Cards like Deep Knowing(43), Time for a Nap(24), Imagine(20), and Observer(49) all features the crescent moon or full moon. Symbolic Associations include: imagination, dreaming, intuition, feminine aspect, femininity, resting, introspection, playful rest. 

Doors/Windows. Cards like Chop Wood(42), Not for You(6), Truth be Told(14) and There and Now(32) all features doors and windows. Symbolic Associations: opportunities, alternative perspectives, opinions or attitudes, flexibility, threshold, transitions, and decision-making. 

22404071_10159307625155580_575800002_oHow to Utilize Symbolic Associations: Sample Reading

Learning how to read symbols is crucial to conducting intuitive readings, and it’s actually very easy once you get into the zone!

  1. First, start by looking at the definitions or general associations of a symbol,
  2. Second, match and apply it to your own life and experiences.
  3. Third, look for images and symbolic suggestions that offer you a solution to your problems

For example, you ask about your career and you receive the card: Here and Now. You look at the images depicted on the card and you see the desert landscape, the sky landscape, road signs, a floating egg with a winged child sitting on top of a banner that says, “You are Free”. In addition, there is a gate wide open in the centre of that floating egg.

Like mentioned before in the above example (in the landscape section), the desert depicts the long and laborious journey towards both Past and Future, the two words written on the road signs. You can start to reflect by asking yourself, “Have you been struggling with dwelling in the Past or wanting to go back to the Past?” The answer is yes, because presently you find that you are in fact regretting how soon you have quit your previous job, and that you should have waited until you’ve saved up more before you quit. You then can ask yourself, “Have you been struggling with dwelling in the Future or projecting your thoughts forward in the future?” The answer is also yes, because you have been incessantly worrying about if you’re going to have enough money to last the next couple of months, and you’re worried that you just might end up on the streets if you don’t find a steady source of income in the days to come.

Now you look at the floating egg in the skyscape. From both the sky and the egg, you combine the two symbols and you interpret them as the new idea or new opportunity that will lead you to your financial freedom and endless potential. But what exactly is this? It’s floating on top of you, so that means it’s above your usual periphery of vision. If you “look up” (figuratively), what is something you have been missing? You start to reflect and you come to the conclusion that quite literally, the 68-year-old retired mother who lives above your apartment floor has been asking you to if you teach guitar lessons, because her musically curious granddaughter visits every weekend, and she would love to help nurture the talent in her grandchild.

You also remember that a couple of neighbours have been asking you for guitar lessons as well, and they say that you’re such a cheery personality and their kids love you. Now this is something you’ve been shoving under the carpet because in your mind, teaching guitar and being self-employed doesn’t seem like a “stable” job, or it doesn’t seem like a “traditional” job that pays regularly. But hey, someone is literally asking if they could pay you money for a service, so why not?

You look down at the card and you notice (again) the child sitting on top of the egg. Quite literally, a chlid! Wasn’t that the opportunity you have just realized!? Teaching children, and working with children? Before you know it, you have managed to tapped into your intuition through symbolic associations, identified the ares in your life that aren’t working, and come up with a new direction to work towards. 

This is how you can utilize symbolic associations. You engage with the symbolism and ask yourself meaningful questions to find the insights already present in your psyche and solutions to your problems. You allow your intuitive insights to flow uninterrupted, staying in the Moment, focusing on the Now. 

You may ask, well didn’t the card just tell me what I already knew? This was nothing I couldn’t deduce on my own! But that’s the thing with reading cards intuitively. Your intuition leads you to your inner wisdom and your inner knowing. It needn’t to be a moment of multi-dimensional transcendence with divine trumpets playing each time you channel an intuitive reading. Intuitive readings are very subtle, but insightful, and powerfully transformative if you allow the energies and the stars to realign, and make the right choices to hasten that process.

Notes

By the way, I just wanted to let you know that the list of symbols here are not exhaustive–there are many more that I haven’t addressed, but I have made an effort to address the most common ones. I did my best to include the examples and actual cards that include these symbols, but I may have missed some. If I did, feel free to comment below and I will add it to the blog post to complete the list. And if there is any symbolism that you’re wondering about, feel free to comment below as well!

Anyhoo. I hope you find this guide useful. xo

Review + Flip Through 

You Had Me At Hello: Tarot of the Animal Lords

Deck Reviews

0738704474-2The back is atrocious. There, I got that out of my chest. I feel a tinge of guilt, having started this first impression blog post with a negative comment–but it had to be said. Now tie that tiled High Priestess in red filter x 4 to a jet-pack and return it back to whence it came.

Sorry. I was honestly horrified by that back cover–it just didn’t appeal to me. But my oh my, this is such a wonderful and interesting deck.

Now let’s get to the good part!!

I have always been a big fan of animal symbolism and how different animals can represent particular parts of the human psyche. Connecting with animals and animal totems helps us connect with nature, reminding us that we are ultimately part of earth’s rotation and rhythm.

The interesting with animal symbolism is that gender or sex is usually more distant and removed. Most of the time you can’t immediately identify the gender aspect of a particular animal. Of course, some animals like the male lion or foxes will scream masculine energy while butterflies and lovebirds will appear more feminine. But yeah, like other animal-themed decks, the animal humanoid figures in this deck are less gender-specific.

Except for the gender specific ones. For example, the 9 of Pentacles is represented by a female panda nursing her child…a female panda humanoid wearing a low-cut dress, with a distinct cleavage and well, boobs. I am still taking my time to stomach that image. Somehow animal heads and female bodies don’t really work together. They are not disturbing per se, but at the moment I was unsure how to process it. I find this fascinating and will definitely look into it as I study more into this deck.

One card I had trouble with when I was checking out the cards was The Devil. Not-surprisingly it is represented by a he-goat. I found that disturbingly…religious? As far as I know, isn’t the horned devil figure a misappropriation of the Pagan Horned God? Almost like how the snake, the symbol of the Great Goddess, becomes (unfortunately) the token manifestation of Big Daddy D in Christian and Catholic mythology. The symbolic associations for the he-goat is pure masculine vitality, which makes sense because it is associated with the Horned God. I mean, I am going to study deeper into animal symbolism, and right now I am just really not sure about The Devil card.

In addition, the he-goat is accompanied by a gargantuan frog!? I remember writing a short story that utilizes the symbol of a frog, and I vaguely recall that it is normally associated with transformation and change. I wonder what it’s doing by the devil’s side? But come to think of it, an encounter with The Devil often requires a leap of faith, an experience that can trigger a change or spark the process of transformation.

Some of the animal symbolism are quite apparent, and some call for further study. I love studying tarot cards, so I am really excited to be working with so many animal imageries. Woot!!

 

Tarot of the Secret Forest: The Courts

Deck Reviews

On a totally random yet utterly related note, I just discovered Lucia Mattioli also created Fairy Lights Tarot. (Subtext: I KNEW IT. As I observed the intricate details, the way the artist reinterprets archetypes and symbolisms of tarot…let me just say I put two and two together. I went to check the box of Fairy Lights and AHA!)

In this blog post, I won’t be addressing every single court card in Secret Forest but I will introduce you to a few of my favoruite Courts (including a WTF moment I have had with Knight of Cups)

Page of Swords

Page of Swords: the witty prick who won’t hesitate to prove you wrong

Page of Swords is smart, clever–and he is honestly quite a smug. He’s not afraid to engage in mental/verbal sparring of any kind and experiment with ideas and concepts. In Secret Forest, he is depicted to be holding two different swords and two different shields. This tells me that his knowledge is both rich and eclectic. He is very creative and on point when it comes to communicating and problem solving, as well as defending his ideas and position. He is confident, comfortable in his own shoes, and likes to challenge the status quo.

Knight of Cups

Knight of Cups: his heart is what he has to offer

Initially, I really did not know what to make of this card. It doesn’t seem like the Knight of Cups is riding the fantastically floating fish; instead, it looks like he is walking down the hill no tip toes, awkwardly clenching the fish in between his legs and making his way down. In a way it is very endearing; he is not afraid to look like a fool to pursue his desires. Just when I was about to settle with this view of him, I showed this card to one of my tarot buddies, and she offered me an alternative perspective. She said that Knight of Cups seems to be desperately trying to hold onto his fish and trying not to fall. I looked at the card again: yes, it makes sense. The fish, absurd (as it is swimming in midair) and a creature of the water, most likely represents the heart and the unpredictability of its intentions. Knight of Cups always follows his heart and chases after his dreams; in this regard he can be quite self-absorbed.

Queen of Pentacles

Queen of Pentacles: she who beckons you and is ready to give

The way she sits, so poised and graceful, shows me that she is aware of my gaze, and that she welcomes anyone who is in need of warmth, comfort and nurture. Whatever you need, she is ready to provide. She will give you her help; she will listen to you, take care of you, and set you on your path. This is her greatest gift: helping you connect with your reality, giving you the sustenance that you require to continue your journey. Not only that–if you stay, she will give you a seed and teach you how to plant it so that it can grow. What she gives you is not merely aid; she invests in your future by teaching you how to get there so that you will not need her when the time comes. (She’s the practical mama!)

King of Wands

King of Wands: the centre organ of his ecosystem

He never worries about finding his place in the world: he is his entire world that he carries with him always. Even from scratch, from void, from zero, growth spurts out of him: the pure foresting, pure creation. He alone is enough to sustain an entire forest. He is a solar organism that keeps everything alive. The forest needs him to thrive…and so does his subjects. He is part of the world around him…he grows. If he walks into a new place, the environment around him creates a space for him from sheer authority, sheer life, sheer fire and will. He cannot be pinned down, always on the verge of shape-shifting into something else–but always, always his grand self.

Tarot of the Secret Forest: The Minor Arcana

Deck Reviews

For me, the minor arcana of Secret Forest is truly the highlight of the deck. The major arcana is absolutely beautiful, but the way the four suits become manifested in the world of the lush Secret Forest, riddled with their respective elemental energies, animal totems and colours–I find myself transported into a different realm. Like Alice eating tiny mushroom slice and finding herself staring into an entirely different universe.

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The Suit of Cups: Drenched in Moss

  • The Ace: a blossoming flower floating on the water surface, fluid and vivid
  • Green like spring; delicate, soft, fresh and sensual
  • Themes of birth, gestation and fluidity
  • So close, yet so far: the incredible depth of a single moment or sentiment
  • Flowers, fish, and scenes by the water
  • dreamy, warm and wondrous
  • Interestingly I am not as drown to the suit of cups as I normally do with other decks; it could be that I have entered a phase in my life in which I am drawn to passion and practicality as well as clear communication–fire, earth and air are primary elements in my reality right now, transition from a mostly “water-based” way of living that I was in before

Wands, 3 of

The Suits of Wands: Adventures in Maroon

  • The Ace is of course represented by the flaming salamander: intention and motion distilled into this creature, into a moment of focused stillness. Throughout the suit of wands you will encounter many members of its amphibian kin
  • Foxes and weasels, gazing into the starry sky or a pond of shining stones
  • Themes of swiftness, motion, potential, and growth
  • The suit of wands is a story in motion, the grand opening of a marvelous journey, a tale in the process of being written
  • A whimsical 10: a tortoise burdened by the bamboo shoots and various vegetation sprouting off from its shell–poor thing, but it does capture the theme of slowness, trudging, and weight quite well

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The Suit of Pentacles: Standing on Amber Ground

  • The Ace: a rock lifting centipede emerging from earth
  • Richness of landscape, micromovements against a backdrop of stillness, earth (duh)
  • Small moments that are of majestic quality
  • Creatures closely connected to the earth: earthworms, snakes, and the deer
  • It’s like the landscape speaks for itself: a lonely shed, the forest trees against shooting stars and the moon, butterflies flying up an aged stone staircases; fruits and petals slowly hang down from the branches
  • A profound and ancient silence
  • A fruitful 10: sweet juicy plums (I think they’re plums) hanging down from the branches. Pretty self-explanatory, no?

Swords, 2 of

The Suit of Swords: Abstractions in Stone Grey Blue 

  • The Ace: a sharp display of a moth with a hell of a butt sword
  • Penetrating clarity, starkness, nakedness, and at times–a sense of cruelty, which makes sense because truth can sometimes be harsh and ugly to look at
  • Hedgehogs, spiders, brambles and scorpion–this is definitely the dangerous and unforgiving part of Secret Forest
  • A striking 10: a spider (which is often a “demonized” animal in representations of nature and its living creatures…think Shelob in LOTR). When I first looked at it, it made sense to represent the culmination of airy energies with a spider, caught in a web with nowhere to go…it is time to face your end. But then the second time I looked, I discovered that ants are crawling on top of its body, climbing up its legs and paralyzing it. Nightmares really do come true.

Numerology in Secret Forest: Key Words and Common Themes

  • 1’s-Emergence
  • 2’s-Choice
  • 3’s-Co-Existence
  • 4’s-Roots
  • 5’s-Adversity
  • 6’s-Opportunity
  • 7’s-Curiosity
  • 8’s-Grasp
  • 9’s-Entrench
  • 10’s-Encompass

Exploring Lucia Mattioli’s Tarot of the Secret Forest

Deck Reviews

Last year, I blogged about my first impressions towards “Tarot of the Secret Forest” by Lucia Mattioli. Since then, I have moved on to work with other decks and set it aside. Yesterday, I decided to return and re-enter the Secret Forest that once deeply fascinated me. Needlessly to say I feel in love with it again.

There are two very different worlds in this deck: you have the world of the secret forest: lush and wild with green, populated by the tiny creatures and spirits in the microscopic world where beetles and butterflies dwell in the depth that is normally imperceptible unless you pay close attention. It’s a fantastical world that exists in silence and ambiance. (I mean, we normally don’t really think about the bugs that are crawling quietly in the grass, right?)

If you flip the cards over, you have a very different world: a stark, monochrome version of the secret forest world. It is a much simpler, harsher, and darker reimagining of the green forest world. The brushstrokes are impressionistic, coarse, minimalist and powerful.

From “You Had Me at Hello: Tarot of the Secret Forest”, the first impressions blog post I wrote last year

To recap, not only is this tarot deck reversible, it is also double sided. Yes, double sided! How exciting is that? Normally, the back cover augments a sense of mystery to the process of interpretation. As you flip over the cards one by one, you watch as your story is being unveiled. With Secret Forest, the experience is utterly different and totally unique. There is no “back cover”, which means that when you are shuffling, you are able to see and identify the cards in the deck. There is no “big reveal” when you finish laying down the cards. Instead, it is replaced by a gradual sense of awakening, as you lay down the cards one by one (or however way you choose to do it), it’s like you are slowly opening your eyes.

Major Arcana-Hermit

I am only beginning to explore the different ways of interpreting the monochrome world. Of course, you should always listen to your intuition, define it within the context of other cards that are present, and frame it under the question you are asking. But here are some of the ways I look at the “other side” of the card:

  • A misconstrued persona, a projection of ego, or a deliberate construction of identity to serve a purpose. This can be either negative or positive. For example, you can be trying to one-up somebody by magnifying qualities that typify the High Priestess, but in reality it is toxic comparison that drives you to over-deliver the supposed “positive” qualities of an archetype. On the other hand, it could be that you are upholding a persona for the particular career you are involved, which requires you to consider your personal branding and put forward your best professional self that is an extension of who you are and your authentic voice–although it does not necessarily encompass all of you
  • Moment of shock, sudden change or transition
  • Distortion, perversion, or destruction of the archetype
  • Awakening, transcendence

The possibilities are endless. Having two distinctly different colour schemes or art styles to work with within the same tarot “world” really adds “dimension” to your interpretation. Given the context of a question, what does it mean to be in colour? What does it mean when things are black and white?

Furthermore, the monochrome world isn’t always the same as its coloured twin. More often than not, there are subtle differences that either change how the elements interact on the card or render it slightly more sinister. It’s like the dark wonderland always lurks one step behind the beautiful forest–a secret within a secret. I am head over toes for this deck. *swoon* For instance, you may see a pretty little faerie sitting on an tree arch on the ground in the coloured version, but when you flip it over, she is sitting on a centipede or grotesque looking caterpillar that is arching its back. I feel that this perhaps plays with the idea of appearance vs reality and how perspectives can reveal the intricate layers of an already microscopic world.

Pentacles-8 of

There are so, so many things to discover in this deck. Here are some of the things I noticed, such as recurring images, symbolism, worldbuilding details and more:

  • animals & insects: mostly fish, birds, beetles, butterflies, and some other small woodland animals. (8 of Pentacles depicts a deer, but I think that’s as big as the animals go)
  • forest, shrubberies, branches, flowers blossoming, scenes of water such as ponds or rivers
  • some images of civilization or human presence but fairly minimal (the cards that contain these images seem to carry a sentiment or longing towards the human world)
  • some of these images of civilizations include: staircases, stairs, mansion and manors (there is a beauty, the kind that lingers around abandoned things hinting of the past or half-awaken memories)

I am absolutely in love with this deck. I mentioned this in my first blog post that Secret Forest is a microscopic world rich in the smaller mysteries–small but with an entire universe gestating and glistening on the tip of a butterfly wing. It’s a different kind of magical. It is a deck that invites you to open your eyes and soften your gaze: look closer, but don’t look too hard–let things come to you. Let spirits and tiny creatures of wisdom reveal themselves to you, as you patiently await your answer with curiosity and wonder.

You Had Me at Hello: Tarot of the Secret Forest

Deck Reviews

DTARSEC

This deck finally came in two days ago! Whooooot.

I am absolutely fascinated by this deck. After reading the little white book, I discovered that the cards don’t have a traditional back cover. There are two very different worlds in this deck: you have the world of the secret forest: lush and wild with green, populated by the tiny creatures and spirits in the microscopic world where beetles and butterflies dwell in the depth that is normally imperceptible unless you pay close attention. It’s a fantastical world that exists in silence and ambiance. (I mean, we normally don’t really think about the bugs that are crawling quietly in the grass, right?)

secret

If you flip the cards over, you have a very different world: a stark, monochrome version of the secret forest world. It is a much simpler, harsher, and darker reimagining of the green forest world. The brushstrokes are impressionistic, coarse, minimalist and powerful. When I look at the art I picture how this would impact on a reading–and my current thoughts are that the art style really brings the attention to the “moment”–a moment of change, of shock, of trepidation. There’s also this feeling of profound disconnection and contrast–it’s very interesting and paradoxical because while there is a sense of certainty and decisiveness being emanated from the ink strokes, there is also the sense of unreality because there aren’t enough colours and details. It’s very dream-like–the way that each card is being stripped down to its bare essence that doesn’t need colour to add any meaning to it. It’s like the nakedness and simplicity of it are enough.

Another thought that occurred to me was that the concept of the tarot is also very intriguing. Usually, with tarot we attempt to capture this universal archetypal world–there is a feeling of grandness and mystical transcendence to it. It’s like some kind of symbolic inflation or something. But this deck, conceptually, is already very distilled. It uses insects to capture the grand archetypal energy. It’s very cool because the Secret Forest is usually a place where we tend to overlook, and to seek insight or some revelation we would look up towards the sky and beckon an answer from the boundless universe, but the Secret Forest connects us to a different kind of reality–a reality that comes into being and focus when we truly look, pay attention, and zoom in. There is a vivid richness distilled in each of the card in Secret Forest and I look forward to working with this deck in the future.

You Had Me at Hello: Nicoletta Ceccoli Tarot

Deck Reviews

carte-postale-le-miroir-nicoletta-ceccoli

Welcome to the first post of You Had Me at Hello Series. For the most part, the blog posts from this series will document my initial impressions of the tarot or oracle decks that I am beginning to work with. I plan to blog more about individual tarot decks in the future on this blog–I don’t know how far I’m going to go with this idea because my blogging seems to be on and off these days, but I will definitely be blogging about some of my all-time favourite decks such as Universal Fantasy Tarot, Wisdom from the Hidden Realms and more. Stay tuned for more tarot goodness!

The Ceccoli Tarot reminds me of the nightmarish dreamscapes of Alice: Madness Returns, which is by far one of my all-time favourite video games. The atmosphere is both childlike and dreamlike–the world of Ceccoli is a strangely fantastical one, saturated with grotesque and darkness. The soft shading gives it an ethereal quality. In short, the artwork is absolutely stunning. To quote my friend Maria Argueta, who sums up the artwork much better than I do: “The whole soft shading aligns with the dreamy state of the surrealist movement.”

Maybe it’s the surrealism; initially I didn’t think my intuition would connect to the imagery as much as it actually had. For one, the surrealism made it seem unapproachable and distant. The symbology didn’t seem like it would be intuitively applicable to real-world problems. I worried that it would fail to capture the human experience because the motifs are so strange and otherworldly.

However, I was wrong. I was able to tap into this world of soft colours. What I love the most about this deck is the sense of unease and danger it seems to radiate. It has a certain fragility and vulnerability that it carries that makes it so precarious. It’s like you are treading on glassy ground above the eternal abyss of ethers and dream material. I find the imagery fascinating, and I took the time to study the recurring symbolism and motifs throughout the cards. It’s like anytime if you let your fear take over, the sweet and wonderful things can become spoiled and rotten.

The Alice in Wonderland theme is quite prevalent. I think there are almost ten cards that made a reference to the Carroll’s world of absurdity and dreamy potentiality. I also found these reecurring symbols very interesting:

  • Alice in Wonderland: tea cups, poker cards, mushrooms, roses
  • The white rabbit, or rabbits in general
  • Food, and the mutilation of food
  • Insects, such as spiders, bees, and flies
  • Things you would find in a nursery, such as colourful building blocks, dolls, rocking horses, buttons

I also noticed that there is absolutely no male representation in this deck. Every single deck, save for the Emperor, the dwarves on the Snow White Card (Death), and a few miniscule male sidekicks in the background. It’s interesting that there is little to none male presence in this deck. The Hierophant is a monkey with a cymbal. Is it because dream exploration carries an intrinsically feminine vibe? Since the feminine in tarot is associated with receptivity, intuition, and inner explorations–dreamscapes like the Ceccoli Tarot is perhaps a feminine deck in that regard.

There is also an interesting theme of metamorphosis, or rather, a theme of becoming. Many of the cards depict a girl in the midst of becoming something, or she is sort of half girl and half object. If you take a look at the Magician, which is a girl putting on the mask of a snow leopard–this perhaps indicates that in the world of dreams, you can become whatever you want to become. You are the shaper of your dreams, but if you allow fear to overtake you, your dreams become spoiled and rotten, and they become a nightmare that you cannot wake form.

Wisdom from Ta’Om the Poet: Life is poetry

Deck Reviews, Tarot

IMG_20150331_205446

Ta’Om the Poet (from Brian Froud’s Faeries’ Oracle) came to me as my life lesson card. A while ago, I was having a spiritual crisis: the culmination of my spiritual and personal journey and an explosion of conflicting ideas about my own identity and my worldview. It’s a long story to type in a blog post, but basically, ego started me right in the face and I mistook it for spirituality. My spiritual crisis arose when I saw through that mask and began to question how I saw the world and how I approached my own life. I was always searching for meaning; always digging deeper and deeper into my own shadowscapes, trying to find the root of the problem, trying to solve the puzzles in my heart. In doing so, I wanted to transcend the realm of the mundane. I claimed to be a spiritual person and I think deep down inside, I wanted to become some kind of spiritual guru. I wanted to know everything. I wanted to figure out the Universe. I wanted to know. 

Well, of course that didn’t go well. Wanting to figure out the Universe is a daunting task to say the least. Most importantly, the Universe is never fixed; it is always in flux. You can’t pin it down with a solid definition or a set of definitions. That’s not the reality. That’s not how it works. Thinking about it now, I can almost hear the cosmic matrix chuckling at my silliness–and indeed, it was silly of me to be so obsessed with meaning. That’s when I met Ta’Om the Poet.

In many ways, Ta’Om is much like of The Fool from the tarot: spontaneous, adventurous, youthful, energetic, and lusty for life. He is also a poet: creative, expressive, and deeply romantic. When he came to me as my life lesson card, somehow I wasn’t surprised. As I got to know him better, my worldview shifted and evolved into what it was meant to be.

Life is like poetry. Living life is like reading a poem. Trying to find the meaning of life is like trying to find the meaning of a poem. You can’t pin a poem down with just one meaning. Poetry isn’t about singularity; it’s about dynamism and perspectives. While there are universal lessons,  symbolism and archetypes, each person is going to perceive the poem different depending on their knowledge, background, and personal understanding. So many factors come into place when you are trying to understand a poem.

And most importantly, there are no “wrong answers” when you read poetry. What you come up with is your interpretation at that particular time, under a particular understanding and a particular mood. When you realize something different, or when you wake to the “true” meaning of the poem, it won’t be the ultimate truth of the poem either. It is true, but only at the time. A poem can have many different facets and tastes. It is never just one thing. It is always changing and shifting. It is shapeshiftingly multidimensional.

To seek meaning in life is like seeking meaning in a poem. There are no wrong answers. There is only the truth that is important to you at the time. The insight that you find useful to you is always going to be different, because *you* are always going to be different. That’s the beauty and nature of human kind. We are always evolving. We are not the same people we were a few minutes ago.

We, the liver of life, the perceiver of our own divine poetry–should never settle for just one meaning. How boring life will be if that’s the case, and how rigid and dull if the Universe is that simply solved.

That’s the lesson brought to me by Ta’Om the Poet. He truly changed the way I looked at my way life and my “seeker” attitude. Instead of looking for rigid, one-dimensional “answers”, I am now looking for “insight”. Not facts–but truths.

Thank you, Ta’Om, for showing me the way to Truth. xoxo

Faeries don’t care much about spread positions: working with Brian Froud’s Faerie Oracle

Deck Reviews

I’ve been working with Brian Froud’s Faeries Oracle lately. Needless to say I’m in love with this amazing deck. 🙂 I’ve made an interesting discovery: faeries don’t seem to give a crap about spread positions–maybe that’s why the guidebook doesn’t offer specific spreads that correspond with the faerie theme. It does offer suggestions of various “shapes” or ways you can organize your cards, but it isn’t really strict about the naming of each spread. I guess faeries have to be faeries–they don’t care much about boundaries and spaces, so I doubt that they would enjoy the idea of subjecting themselves to such confinement. Especially something as incredibly dull and mortal as spread positions. 😛

What I’ve noticed is while sometimes the faeries allow you to view them in the lens of a specific spread position, most of the time they tell their own stories. It’s a very intriguing phenomenon. Either the focus or the centre of the story gravitates towards one particular faerie in the spread (regardless of how you designed the spread to convey message), or they’re just too caught up with their own party dynamics to notice that you are actually trying to figure out what they’re trying to tell you by arranging themselves in such manner (I think they do this on purpose so you self-reflect more).

Whacking you gently on the head with a huge grin on their faces also seem to be a faerie specialty. They’re incredibly wise and spiritual–maybe one of the reasons why they are so effective at delivering message and healing is because the faerie realm is one in between the spaces, the heart-space and soul-space between our subconscious and conscious. They make sure you connect and engage with your inner reality and renew your attitudes about the outer reality. It is both gentle and restorative and just the act of getting to know them better is a kind of therapy for the mind.

Another thing I like about this deck is that it is very much a “faerie kingdom” when it comes to the types of faerie represented by the cards. There’s the Singers (the celestial, cosmic faeries that dwell above and beyond the human space), the larger than life faerie archetypes like the Sidhe, the gentle Guardians spirits, the adorable benign Help-Line Troupe, and last but not least, the Challengers. This deck is more than just fluffy jolly mystical beautiful wonderful faeries. There are also faerie characters for the darker aspect of mankind–and what I like about them is that they are not portrayed as something negative, they are portrayed as challengers, faeries who challenge humans because it is necessary. They don’t necessarily like their job, but they will show themselves to us as negative feelings in our psyche to alert us of our greater truths. They do it because they have to–in a way it’s like every negative emotion we experience should be signs or red flags for us: though they are negative, they reveal to us more about ourselves and serve as great indicators of our emotional health.

Anyway. I shall continue to work with this deck. It’s been a very insightful journey so far.

Dreaming Way Tarot

Deck Reviews

DreamingWayBox

The Spirit of Dreaming Way 

Dreaming Way Tarot is a very young and rebellious deck. The more I work with it, the more I think so. It’s got an insatiable adolescent spirit, capturing all the self-consciousness, carelessness, the passion and the grandiose of youth. Its artwork, filled with both fashion and style and a semi-Victorian, fairytalesque spin on modern culture, fuels its youthful spirit with fierceness and glamour. It burns with idealism, yearns for a future glittering with perfection, and journeys down the winding road of curious exploration, personal transformation and ultimate individuation.

One of the reasons I have bonded deeply with this deck is because, indeed, of its youthful spirit. I feel like part of me is always going to be a teenager: despite having grown up, part of me still remains idealistic, still dreams with the same ferocity and dedication that I had when I was younger, and still feels and experiences just as much as my young trembling heart did. I still get temperamental at times: the signature of youth, I suppose. The difference is that right now, as an adult, I now have what I lacked when I was a teenager: perspective, and a much better sense of reality.

On the other hand, this is also the reason why sometimes I feel extremely disconnected and detached from this deck–precisely because I am no longer a teenager. You don’t always need the exaggerated, bloated sentiments of youth. You don’t always want to be seen as young and inexperienced. However, I have learned to embrace it as it is. Everything seems so dramatic when you are young, no? Because everything is new, everything is fresh and glowing and glorious. Dreaming Way Tarot reminds me that I should always be young, that I should never give up on my ideals, to never stop daring and challenging the world, to never stop myself from feeling and savouring all that is wonderful.

I remember I used to draw extensive comparisons between Dreaming Way and the traditional Rider-Waite. Although it was a necessary learning process for me to draw on the Rider-Waite, the father deck of modern tarot, the age-old wisdom doesn’t always apply to this deck. In retrospect, of course this comparison is not effective. Why? Because no teenager is going to listen to some ancient elder that is righteous by age. In the world of youth, nothing is righteous by age…yet, ironically, everything is: the contempt and disregard for the old, for rules, for traditions, for boundaries–contrasted by the intense desire to break free, break through, to reinvent and reshape the world with dreams and visions–Dreaming Way is, indeed, a Way to the boldest of Dreams.

DreamingWay_8Strength

The Major Arcana 

Dreaming Way Tarot is a “young” deck, and the majority of the people depicted in Dreaming Way are young–which is to say that most of the characters look like they’re in their twenties or early thirties. The exceptions are obviously the “older” characters and archetypes such as The Emperor, The Heirophant, and the World. Interestingly, you don’t see many old women in Dreaming Way. But then, come to think of it, you don’t see a lot of old women depicted in tarot decks, either (potential blog post?).

Every single card in the Major Arcana , except for The Tower, contains a human figure that is seen to dominate the scene. Proportionately speaking, they occupy the spotlight when it comes down to symbolic interpretations. Also, I find that the characters are often androgynous, which could be just the art style since it mildly carries qualities of Japanese shojo anime. The fashion certainly emits an anime vibe.

Speaking of The World card, it is absolutely fascinating that the representation of worldly spirit, the sense of completion and self-realization, is an old man! Yes. It is an old man, sitting in his armchair, dozing off into a nap as he gently puts his book and glasses down. The young, impulsive teen has at last, “grown up” to be someone perfectly at ease, perfectly comfortable with who he is, and perfectly carefree after a lifetime of hardcore adventures.

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The Minor Arcana

I love the way the four suits are represented in this deck, especially the suit of cups and the suit of swords. The cups look like something you can find in Ikea (which I love, by the way) and I am a big fan of the polka dot design. They’re absolutely adorable. Meanwhile, the swords (sometimes daggers or short swords) have amazingly and exquisitely designed handles, and they are very eye-pleasing in terms of aesthetics. Not your average, medieval swords with boring metal blades and lackluster hilts.

The four suits each correspond to a specific season. This is actually something I just noticed (like literally, just now as I am writing this post!). The Suit of Cups pertain to Spring; the surroundings are very floral, and are often depicted to be near the ocean–capturing the receptivity, sensitivity and intuitive quality of the water element. The Suit of Wands pertain to Summer, and almost all the cards have lush, vivid greenery and trees either in the background or foreground–capturing the vivacious and unchanging spirit of the fire element. The Suit of Pentacles pertain to Fall, containing scenes of harvest and earth–representing the earth element and its abundance, solidity and interconnectedness. Lastly, the Suit of Swords pertain to Winter, the starkness and barren landscape of snow seem to reflect the coldness of reason and logic, as well as the poignancy and precision of the air element.

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The Courts

Dreaming Way’s courts are like celebrities in many ways (in a…dreaming way? Excuse the terrible pun 🙂 ). The pages, knights, queens and kings look like they have just walked out of an urban fantasy movie set–stylish boots and elegant scarves, glamorous,costumes and exquisite props–all poise and fairy-tale magic. One of the things that I like about the courts is the way they dress is relevant to their personalities and who they are. For example, The King of Pentacles is dressed in a loose, vivaciously rippling robe with lush green vines and grapes patterning the cloth. This obviously reflects his sense of abundance, his eye for great investment and his ability to “harvest”. Grapes are also associated with prosperity. This, again, reflects the wealth and graciousness of the King of Pentacles.

Another thing I like about the courts is that their “scene” is an extension of their core being. When they are “on set”, every aspect of their environment showcases what they represent, including the way they posit themselves. For example, the Queen of Swords is depicted to be sitting in the middle of a winter forest covered in snow. This highlights the quality of air and the starkness of the suit of swords. Furthermore, tiny clockworks of silver and gold patterned on her throne chair, which is highly regal, fully cushioned but sturdy in the legs. This, I feel, attempts to portray her excellence and aptitude in the mental faculties: the clockworks being the logical, methodical workings of her mind while the regal, sturdy chair captures the simple yet powerfully functioning abilities to ground anything in reason. The Queen of Swords sits with perfect posture. unmoving, her back straight and her feet firmly planted on the ground. This means that she is just, fair, and a public ideal to be aspired to–a perfect depiction of who she is.

A Taste of This Deck

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The Devil

This is one of my favourite cards to get in a reading when using this deck, because the Devil reminds me to look deeper within myself in order to free myself from the mental shackles that are currently holding me back. The representation of The Devil in Dreaming Way is a fascinating one. What drew me to this card is the straitjacket. Immediately, I am channeling a disturbing, creepy vibe. And indeed, as The Devil represents the darker parts of ourselves that we sometimes fail to reconcile with, as well as soul-eating addictions on the ego level–the straitjacket makes sense because The Devil IS creepy! When your spirit is in a dark place, you are literally not in your right mind–as if you are mentally disturbed or mad. This kind of mentality chains you, suffocates you, exposes the raw ugly parts of you and shames you. You become the numb puppet in the hands of this masterful puppeteer. You fall under the control of your own ego, your own inner Devil, your own inner insanity.

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Seven of Pentacles

Initially, this was by far one of my least favourite cards in Dreaming Way. It took me so much effort not to throw a tantrum over this card because I thought this card failed to capture the original theme of patience in the Seven of Pentacles that is present in the Rider-Waite Deck. This was when I first started seriously working with tarot and I didn’t know better then. Now, as I look at this card, I love it! I love its theme on materialism because it’s something the original Rider-Waite doesn’t have. Of course, you can always achieve this theme with proper context and the correct combination of cards, but there is not one single card that depicts modern materialism in the original Rider-Waite, and in many decks that I’ve come across. A shopping card! Who would have thought? This is the “grand reaping” in our contemporary society–what beats a shopping spree after days of hard work and diligent savings? This card is almost genius in a cute, whimsical way.

To close

Dreaming Way is one of those decks that you learn to love from a distance. That is how you love a teenager as an adult; that is how you admire youth. I will say that it is not the best deck to go to when undergoing troubling times–when you are in need of a deeper exploration of your psychological realms and your inner workings. However, this is a great deck to go to whenever you are feeling “young”, whenever you are stricken with a sense of adventure, when you want to do things with style, when you want something to uplift your spirit and ideals, when you want to feel untouched, energetic, and wondrous.

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Edit 2017-06-11:

I mentioned that I didn’t consult Dreaming Way for more solemn or serious questions like shadow work. That was a bias I had back then. Now I ask it all kinds of questions. 🙂 It is without a doubt my soul-mate deck. ❤